Rookie Sanit Workers Rescue Child From Burning Building
Damon Allen, 31, of Crown Heights, and Michael Kalinowski, 25, of Bensonhurst, who have only been on the job since July 18, were in the middle of their overnight shift collecting trash from DSNY litter baskets on September 14 when they spotted a burning building at 431 Remsen Ave-nue.
In a telephone interview with the Canarsie Courier on Tuesday, Allen said he was driving the truck when Kalinowski spotted flames shooting from the windows of the three-story building. They stopped the truck to see if they could help. Allen, the father of two children, rushed towards the building as his partner called their Brooklyn South garage at East 105th Street and Avenue D.
Allen said he saw a man and a child on a third-floor fire escape, shouting, “Somebody catch my daughter!”
The sanitation workers advised the man, Damon Whyte, the girl’s stepfather, to try to climb down the fire escape as far as he could before dropping her.
He managed to get down one flight and prepared to drop 55-pound Imani McCovery into Allen’s arms.
“I braced myself and got in position, then told him to drop her,” Allen said.
The frightened child fell safely into his arms and was crying, but Allen said he assured her everything was all right.
Whyte then climbed down the fire escape to safety as the two-alarm blaze engulfed the building near East 58th Street. Other residents also managed to escape. Firefighters reportedly got the blaze under control in less than an hour. Three firefighters and two civilians sustained minor injuries according to media reports.
“The stepfather came over and thanked us for our help,” Kalinowski explained.
The grateful stepfather later posed for photographs with the rescuers.
Despite their modest admission that they are not heroes, a DSNY spokesperson told the Courier Allen and Kalinowski are being recommended for acknowledgment of their heroic effort.